In the spring, there’s an almost universal urge to clean and maintain our homes. People, like bears, seem to emerge from their winter dens just as the days begin to grow longer. There may even be a biological explanation: in the winter, our lack of exposure to sunlight causes the pineal gland to produce melatonin. Melatonin is the hormone that makes us sleepy, kicking in every night around 9 pm. However, during winter’s shorter, dreary days, our melatonin production can increase, followed by a decrease as the days get longer and sunnier. As a result, people tend to feel more energetic in the spring and cleaning up is a natural outlet for that energy.
There are also a wide variety of cultural traditions around spring cleaning, most notably from the Near and Middle East. In Iranian tradition, spring marks the ancient festival of Nowruz, which is preceded by Spring cleaning, or Khouneh Tekouni, which literally means ‘shaking the house’. Extensive spring-cleaning is a national tradition observed by almost every household in Iran. In the Jewish tradition, the Passover holiday occurs in the spring and is marked by removing all leavened (yeast risen) breads from the house. It’s important to make sure that not even a crumb of leavened bread remains, and so Passover is always preceded by two weeks of extensive spring cleaning. In keeping with America’s great heritage as a cultural melting pot, it’s believed that these two traditions may have contributed to the roots of our national interest in spring cleaning.
Whether it’s a biological imperative or a cultural tradition, spring is a great time to deep clean your home and catch up on maintenance tasks that may have been neglected over the winter months. Martha Stewart offers a helpful checklist to cover spring cleaning tasks (PDF) and Bob Vila has a list for home maintenance. However you do your spring cleaning and maintenance, be careful! Spring cleaning can be dangerous (PDF) – the linked list points out common hazards. If one of your employees or helpers suffers a spring cleaning related injury, remember that under your liability clause, the costs are covered by your homeowners policy. To make sure that your policy is up to date, call your independent insurance agency today.